September 20, 2007
At a status conference today, the Parties appeared before the Trial Chamber to report on various issues concerning preparation for the trial, set to begin on January 7, 2008. Mr. Taylor was present in the court room, wearing a suit and gold-rimmed sun glasses. The status conference was relatively brief, finishing in approximately 30 minutes.
The agenda was as follows:
- Composition of the Defense team and legal status of additional Co-Counsel
- Transfer of disclosed materials to the new Defense team
- Status on pending Motions
- Agreed facts
- Witness List
- Any issues in relation to the administration of the case plus additional issues.
Presiding Judge Sebutinde referred to a letter dated September 17 from the Principal Defender concerning the composition of the Defense team. Mr. Griffiths, lead Defense Counsel, confirmed that it lists the core legal Defense team. A potential conflict of interest issue arose concerning the marriage of the Defense case manager to a staff member of the Special Court, but the Prosecution had written a letter stating that they did not see any objection to this. Brenda Hollis for the Prosecution confirmed that at this time there is no objection and she did not anticipate that there will be any conflict in the future.
A further issue briefly discussed was the protection of certain materials in respect of which the Prosecution sought assurances from the Defense. Mr. Griffiths gave these assurances in court.
The Parties also addressed the issue of whether the current Defense team had received all the materials disclosed by the Prosecution to the previous Defense team. Mr. Griffiths indicated that he had difficulty with the filing system of the previous team, but that he was now confident that he had all the relevant documents in his possession.
Next, the Presiding Judge stated that all pleadings had been timely received on outstanding motions, except for one motion where the deadline is September 24. These motions were not discussed further, and the Trial Chamber indicated that it will issue its rulings on these motions in due course.
With respect to the issue of agreed upon facts, Defense Counsel stated that the Defense had wholeheartedly accepted the previously agreed upon facts between the Prosecution and Defense [posted [pdf] here]. However, the Defense proposed two minor corrections to these facts, one relating to the meaning of ECOWAS and the other concerning the two states bordering Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Defense Counsel proposed to defer the discussion of possible other agreed upon facts to the next status conference and requested postponement of that conference to mid-November. In response, the Trial Chamber scheduled the next status conference for November 13, 2007.
The witness list issue was not discussed as the Parties agreed this was premature.
Finally, there was one additional issue raised by the Defense, concerning the detention conditions of Mr. Taylor. Mr. Griffiths said he did not want to trouble the Trial Chamber with this at present. He stated that he would take this issue up with the Registry and merely wanted to alert the Trial Chamber.
We will post again from the Hague at the November 13 status conference.